Monday, January 11, 2010

Winter Session // Project 1

This winter session, I am taking ART309: Book Arts & Letter Press Printing.

In this course, we learn binding and bookmaking techniques as well as how to print with lead and wood movable type with various kinds of Printing presses.

The first project we were assigned was a postcard made using the letterpress that displays "information systems".  That's about as much instruction as we got.  Everyone had a different idea of what kind of information to display.  Someone used phone-numbers, someone used words as a pattern that emphasised an idea, several people used a quote or poetry.  Some people are just using letters or numbers as patterns.  It is pretty open ended.

I started by trying many different types of information, but settled on displaying a fact.  Twitter became a useful resource for this project.  One of the accounts I follow is @OMGfacts, which displays many interesting, usually unknown facts.  The one I settled on is:

My best idea in sketch form was using black periods, commas, and various punctuation marks as black "spots" as a background, and then incorporating the fact in as smaller text.

Another stipulation of the project was that we do at 2 "runs".  A "run" refers to each time you "run" your paper through the press.  This allows for different colors, or overlapping text.

6" x 4"

Fonts used:
Stymie Light 10, 12, 14 pt
Huxley Vertical 14 pt

After I had already finished, she mentioned that we should try to incorporate our name into the design somewhere.  This would have been easier had I known it ahead of time, but I decided to do a third run using the "blind emboss" method, which just means run the lead type through the press without applying ink to it.  It indents the text into the paper without applying color.  This way, it doesn't really take away from the design too much.  It's pretty hard to see on screen, even after I darkened up the contrast on that area, but it is perfectly legible in person.

The last step was to number the edition.  We did an edition of 20 postcards (everyone made 35 to allow for mistakes).  Each person in the class will receive a copy of everyone's postcard, and Special Collections in the UD Library will own an edition as well.

What was really fun about this project was using the printing press.  There are a total of 5 presses in Raven Press, and 3 different types.  We have 3 Vandercooks, one proofing press, and one that I don't know the name of.

This is the Vandercook:

It is an electric press that has moving rollers so you don't need to continually apply ink to the type.  You have to insert one sheet of paper at a time, and then hand crank the roller with your hand to run it through the press.  The nice thing about this press is that the type is applied to the same exact spot on the paper each time, and if you charge the ink correctly, the perfect amount of ink is applied to the page every time.

I used this press for my 1st run (the spots).  Unfortunately, there were issues later on and I had to use the proofing press for my second run.

There is nothing wrong with this press, it is just a little slower going.  It also achieves less perfect results. The way it works is you lay your type down, roll a brayer (a rubber paint roller) in your ink, then roll it over the type.  Then you place your paper on top of the the type, and slide the roller on the press over the paper, which presses the ink into it.  This obviously takes a lot of coordination since you are laying the paper on top of the type each time.  It is a little difficult to make sure it is in the correct spot each time, which is why we ran more than just 20 copies.  Also, since you are applying ink by hand each time, it is more common than not to have too much ink.  This can create some problems.

I also used the the proofing press for my name, but this was by choice, because I thought it worked better for blind emboss.

The most time consuming part of this project is setting the type.  Each character including spaces is a separate piece of lead that you have to pick out and place.  You also have to then put each piece back when you are finished.

Still, it was fun.

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